It is time for your first match. Months of practice, preparations, and planning have gone into this moment. You are sitting in your ship. You've been doing nothing but reviewing your modules, your cargo, your drones for the past hour. Fielding questions from your team, trading cap charges, choosing your skin, and spinning your ship. Nervous? Confident? The emotions go back and forth. And then a GM contacts your Team Captain to discuss bans. This shit is getting real.
So what happens during a tournament match? We've all watched the streams, with the commenters, the CCP and Eve-NT staff back at headquarters - but if you've never flown in an AT, you might not realize everything that is happening. From the pilot perspective, everything is so different. We don't hear the voice over, or the comments, the predictions happening live. We might have a corp mate or two watching for us, relaying general information to us. In fact, we always do. There is always the slim hope for additional intelligence, even if it is last minute. We choose a landing beacon and wait.
In fleet, on comms, and prepared. We sit in a station waiting for the magical teleportation to Jove space. When your screen goes black and you suddenly appear together, side by side in a perfect line. And suddenly everything starts happening really, really fast. Colored text appears in local letting you know timing for when warp will be allowed and you can warp the team to the beacon on your overview. (Hopefully on your overview, we've had some issues with that in the past) So far you have no idea what the enemy team has brought. You might have a good idea, or you may not, but nothing is certain. Not yet. Not until the warp order is given in local, usually accompanied by well wishes or good luck to each team.
And then you land in the arena.
This is your first look at the enemy team (And I use enemy here just as a descriptor, we aren't really enemies) and the ranges their ships have landed from your ships. This is when the FC starts formulating the plan, gives the orders, and short questions are asked. Typically this time period can vary by a considerable amount. We've had fights that started almost immediately and we've had fights that have started a considerable time later. It all depends on the schedule, the other match, and what might be happening back at the studio. But eventually the countdown clock will start.
For us, we all have a new window to look at. A window that appears on your screen with the match time, and the scores accumulating for each team. I rarely ever look at that window. You don't need to look, because you are suddenly in the fight. And you know how it is going. I'm watching the tactical overlay, my overview, and the watchlist. I'm hoping to see ships on my watchlist and not an increasing number of pods. I'm very busy managing my own ship, letting the FC know anything they need to know, or in some cases being FC myself and giving orders. Comms are clear and concise, we all know what we are doing and what needs to happen. And either those ten minutes go by incredibly quickly, or they seem to last forever.
There is nothing like the feeling of winning your match. And there is nothing more frustrating than losing it. In both case you hope for a good fight and not a blow-out. I have been in winning matches that we've won 100-0 and I do love those. But there is something about a good match that you win closer, a 58-36 match, or whatever. But losing is losing, close or not. No one wants to lose, but one team leaves having lost the match. Good fights are given in local and boom - you are back in station again. In a pod, or a ship.
I still have an Astarte in Jita that survived several AT matches intact. I'm just going to leave it there. It is my good luck charm.
If you've never flown in an AT I encourage you to consider it in the future. There are few experiences in Eve Online that can match it. You really should, at least once. And who knows, you might just get addicted. Like I did.